Peace Sponsor Spotlight

Posted on: March 17th, 2014 by jeni No Comments

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Peace Sponsor

Summer/Fall 2014

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Sr. Pauline Petruzzella, R.S.M. 

Buffalo, New York

(Sisters of Mercy)

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A Peace Sponsor “supports peace” in some way, so that others can grow with peace. Perhaps sponsorship is through financial or in-kind donations that enable the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation to fulfill our mission. Perhaps it through participation in our Peace Clubs, our Peace Certification or other programs that help us share a message of peace. Or, perhaps it involves supporting our mission through work with other organizations that endeavor to promote hope and peace.

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Since Mattie’s Foundation was first established, Sister Pauline Petruzaella has been a peace sponsor in many, many ways. She has participated in our programs and outreach activities. She has read Mattie’s books and shared them with others. And, she has attended Jeni’s presentations to learn more about Mattie’s message and the Foundation.

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She has also supported our fundraising efforts. When Mattie’s Foundation launched the annual “Mattie’s Birthday Campaign” to support our programs and activities, we invited individuals and families and businesses and organizations to donate a dollar for each year of Mattie’s life as a gift to our peace mission. Instead of sending $23 to celebrate Mattie’s 23rd birthday during 2013, Sister Pauline invited 23 friends to each share $23 to support our peace mission and programs.

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She has visited Mattie’s Park & Peace Garden many times, one time bringing an entire class of 8th graders with her on a field trip from New York to the Washington, DC area. When Jeni Stepanek, Mattie’s mom, met with the students and staff during their visit to the park, she was ready to offer them a brief presentation on Mattie’s life and message. Instead, she was treated to a program prepared by the staff and students, that included both a recitation and singing of Mattie’s “For Our World” poem.

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Most of all, Sister Pauline never misses an opportunity to share Mattie’s message of hope and peace and the work of Mattie’s Foundation with school children and colleagues, with family and friends, with anyone she has the opportunity to spend time with and share a moment of conversation.

During Spring/Summer 2014, our Peace Spotlight Honoree theme is “Peace: Attitude to Action.” As we celebrate individuals and groups who give of their time, their talent, and their treasure, and who strive to move from attitude to action with peace, the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation honors Sister Pauline Petruzzella  – our Summer/Fall 2014 Peace Sponsor Spotlight.

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Sister Pauline Petruzella — Peace Sponsor Spotlight Feature

Below are Sr. Pauline’s responses to our Spotlight questionnaire.

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Spring 2014 Peace Sponsor Spotlight, Sister Pauline Petruzzella R.S.M., during a 2010 visit to Mattie’s Park & Peace Garden.

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Tell us a bit about yourself.

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First, I am pleased and honored to be recognized as a “Peace Sponsor.”

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I am Sister Pauline Petruzzella, and I have been a Sister of Mercy for more than 55 years.

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I grew up on the west side of Buffalo, NY, and am one of ten children.

 

I always wanted to work with poor children. Looking back, I know the Holy Spirit led me to the Sisters of Mercy, and before I knew it, I was in a classroom with 25 third graders.

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I spent much of my religious teaching career with elementary school children. I always felt children should be seen and heard.

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Who inspired you to celebrate peace? 

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I was inspired by Samantha Smith, a 9-year-old who helped put faces on the Russian people during the Cold War.

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Craig Kielburger, an 8th grader who, with twelve classmates, raised awareness of the exploitation of children in Pakistan, inspired me.

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Sister Pauline with students from St. Ambrose Academy (Buffalo, NY) during a 2012 visit to Mattie’s Park (Rockville, MD). Sister Pauline is inspired by youth who believe in peace, and who move from attitude to action is sharing peace.-

And, Mattie J.T. Stepanek really helped me learn to celebrate peace. His inspirational wisdom and writings ignited in me a conviction that the voices of these young people should never be silenced. Their visions, their dreams, their words should be known and quoted by every congressional elected official.

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How did you learn about Mattie and Mattie’s Foundation?

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I first met Mattie on the Oprah Winfrey Show. I was lucky enough to tape it. I have shared that tape with students, seniors, and various groups.

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Anytime I knew Mattie was going to be on television, I made sure I had a VHS available. I have a prized collection of Mattie with Larry King, Jerry Lewis, Chris Como and Jimmy Carter.

 

How has Mattie or the message he shared impacted your thoughts on peace?

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Our school, St. Ambrose Academy (which closed recently), started every day with one of Mattie’s poems being read over the school PA system.

Sister Pauline with Sister Mary Hartley, SSNN and Sister Therese Marie Sullivan, SSNN (Sisters of St. Mary of Namu

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We also celebrated Mattie J.T. Stepanek Day by posting their own flags and Heartsongs and enjoying Mattie’s favorite foods for lunch. The day ended with a beautiful prayer service that included dance, song and prayer for a peace-filled world.

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In 2012, our 8th grade students, on their way to Washington, DC, stopped at Mattie’s Park in Rockville, Maryland.  The highlight of the trip was to meet Mattie’s mom, Dr. Jennifer Smith Stepanek, Ph.D.  They will never forget her words of encouragement and advice to be peacemakers.

 

My prayer and hope, for all the students that I have taught and met along my journey, is that they, too, will be “Ambassadors for Peace and Justice.”

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Although the school where I worked has now closed, I encourage other schools and educators to bring Mattie’s message of peace into their lessons. My agenda is to get every child in schools that I have interact with to become a member of Mattie’s Peace Club — a free program for children that helps them learn about peace, and choose peace.

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Sister Pauline with Jeni Stepanek and Micah (Mattie’s service dog) during a 2010 visit to Mattie’s Park & Peace Garden-

In planting seeds and talking with teachers and principals, several Catholic and Public schools have now purchased Mattie’s books. I often direct them to Mattie’s awesome Foundation website.

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I also learned more about Mattie’s message by attending a presentation by Dr. Jeni Stepanek, Mattie’s mom. Her talk convinced me how important it is to share the dream, and to make peace a reality in our troubled world.

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Now, when I am Maryland, I always visit Mattie’s Park — it truly is Holy Ground and a very special part of my world.

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I also share Mattie’s message any chance I get, not only with schools, but with friends and many others.

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NOTE: This is an excerpt from an e-mail Sister Pauline sent Jeni during 2013 — an example of her mission to spread peace and Mattie’s message: 

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This morning I was with 14 women sharing scripture. Of course Mattie came up in conversation. Several of the women are now purchasing Mattie’s book, “Reflections of a Peacemaker.”

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After the scripture sharing, I went to bring communion to a woman, around 60, who has cancer and is now in hospice care. I read some of Mattie’s poetry to her and her aid. I ended up giving her my copy of the book.

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Mattie’s Spirit is alive and well..He brings me life and light when I share his story with others. We continue to plant the seeds and send forth those ripples of Hope and Peace

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Loving prayers and blessings,
S. Pauline 

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Do you have a favorite Mattie book, poem, or quote?-

Sister Pauline Petruzzella, RSM.

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I have found all  of Mattie’s writings inspirational. Two of my favorites are: “For Our World” (in Hope Through Heartsongs and Just Peace) and “I Am.” (in Celebrate Through Heartsongs and Just Peace).

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I love the way Mattie shares his belief about a religious person and spiritual person (on page 25 in his Just Peace book).  This young man is a prophetic voice, peace maker and philosopher, truly inspired by the Holy Spirit. His gospel legacy in a life of wisdom and courage.

 

Anything else you would like to share? 

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I feel I am being given more credit than I deserve with this honor. I feel so limited. There are no words to express how I feel for Jeni and her children. They will always be in my prayer life, and Mattie’s Spirit will continue to inspire me.

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Thank you, Mattie and Jeni, for teaching us to listen to our Heartsongs.

Thank you, Sister Pauline,

for being a Peace Sponsor.

Congratulations!

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NOTE: Sister Pauline has been dealing with the
illness and recent death of her younger sister.
She wrote that she knows “every day is a gift”
and she is “working on playing after this storm.”
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Please, hold Sister Pauline
in your thoughts and prayers,
for hope, and for peace.

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View St. Ambrose 8th Graders sharing
Mattie’s For Our World poem here…

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Read the News story about St. Ambrose’
visit to Mattie’s Park here…  

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Return to main Spotlight page

April Spotlight

In-Kind Support

Celebrating our "in kind" sponsors and advocates -- who support Mattie's Foundation with services and materials. Thank you ezStorage, Montgomery Printing, Parcel Plus, and Potomac Valley Brick! Read more...

Nourishment Support

Celebrating our "nourishment" sponsors and advocates -- who support Mattie's Foundation with food and services. Thank you Botanero Restaurant, Fontina Grille, Safeway, Coffee Republic, and Red Hot & Blue! Read more...

Community Support

Celebrating our "community" sponsors and advocates -- who support Mattie's Foundation with commitment and participation. Thank you City of Rockville, King Farm Citizen's Assembly, Kick's Karate & Mix 107.3! Read more...

Champion Support

Celebrating our "Foundation Champions" -- sponsors and volunteers of all ages who support Mattie's Foundation through donations, brick sponsorships, participation in our activities and events. Thank you!!! Read more...

- Mattie J.T. Stepanek